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Michelle L. Dancy, a former manager in what was then the SAG Residuals Estates and Trust Department, was charged by federal authorities on May 21 with embezzling over $54,109 from the union. The indictment attracted no public attention last month, and arises out of activities in 2010, several years prior to the union’s merger with AFTRA to form SAG-AFTRA.
As The Hollywood Reporter reported at the time, the union discharged two employees: a manager for involvement with financial impropriety amounting to what was then estimated at $200,000 to $250,000 and another employee for failing to exercise proper oversight. The union engaged a Big Four accounting firm to conduct an investigation that, at the time, was noted could lead to a criminal referral.
Subsequently, the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards Los Angeles District Office and the DOL’s Office of Inspector General investigated, resulting in the May 21 indictment. It charges Dancy with four counts of embezzlement of union funds and five counts of identity theft, for using the SAG ID numbers of several members.
“SAG-AFTRA is pleased that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has moved forward with criminal charges against the former employee responsible for misappropriating funds from the union’s trusts and estates reserves,” the union said in a statement on Wednesday. “This theft was discovered during an internal audit conducted by the union in 2010 and was immediately investigated, and reported to our board and to the federal government. SAG-AFTRA cooperated with the federal investigation and advocated for and fully supports this criminal prosecution. The misappropriated funds were reimbursed to the union by its insurance carriers and no member lost any money because of the theft.”
Added the statement, “Union employees handling member funds occupy a special position of trust. We take any violation of that trust seriously. Any individual responsible for stealing the property of the union and its members must and will be held accountable.”
THR was not able to locate Dancy for comment, and her counsel, a federal public defender, declined to comment.
The union said in 2010 that any lost funds would be reimbursed by insurance. The Residuals Estates and Trust Department is separate from the Residuals Department, and deals with residuals for members whom the union is unable to locate or who are deceased.
6/17/15 10:58 pm UPDATED with response from Dancy’s public defender.
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